Partisan gridlock, extremism, unwillingness to find common ground, incivility. If those things bother you, you are not alone. Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated with the government they have. Many feel we can do better.
A group of concerned citizens in Utah is doing something about it. We have formed a new political party — the United Utah Party. We have been certified by the state to organize and we will be fielding candidates for 2018. In fact, we are trying to run a candidate for the 2017 special congressional election and are fighting the state right now for the right to get on the ballot.
Why are we doing this? We want to provide a home for the politically homeless. Who are these homeless? They are moderate Republicans, Democrats and independents who are tired of the extremism of the two major parties. We are a party at the center of Utah voters.
Extremes on both ends — from the tea party on the Republican side to the Bernie Sanders movement on the Democratic side — have come to dominate the two major parties. The search for common ground has been lost, and civility has been discarded in pursuit of passionate causes. We reject that extremism. We favor pragmatic approaches that bring people together, not contribute to further divisiveness and gridlock.
We think we can do better, and we can start that effort right here in Utah. We believe our elected officials should seek pragmatic solutions to our policy problems rather than continue the partisan gridlock that characterizes today’s political system. We want representatives in Washington who will bring other representatives together rather than join the excessive partisanship in our nation’s capital. Our first example of this approach is United Utah Party 3rd Congressional District candidate Jim Bennett, son of the late U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, who will be a voice for reason in Washington.
For example, we want our legislators to create bipartisan solutions to our education system rather than continue to kick the can down the road hoping someone at some future time solves the problem. We believe policymakers can bring the federal government and the communities of Utah together to solve our public lands issues rather than fight one another. We believe Utah can be a model for a more compassionate approach to refugees that befits the unique background of Utah. We believe we can reform our tax system to eliminate tax breaks that rob our education system.
We also support political reforms that will make government more user-friendly. These include instituting term limits for statewide officials and legislators, forming an independent redistricting commission to prevent legislators from drawing their own district lines, imposing stricter campaign finance limits on state and local candidates, and increasing the number of nonpartisan elections for offices such as school board, county commissioner and other county offices, as well as the state attorney general.
These reforms will reduce the distance between our government and Utahns. They will make elections more meaningful because there will be more competition, the public will play a greater role in deciding who our representatives are, and government officials will become more accountable to the voter rather than to the party.
We have no illusions about how difficult this will be. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party will oppose us. But we also consider this to be an opportune moment — really, a necessary moment. Utahns have the chance to set a new course — to prove not only that life is elevated in Utah, but so is our political system.
If you have been looking for a party you can feel comfortable in, a party that represents your more moderate views, then, go to unitedutah.org. You may find just what you have been looking for.
Richard Davis is the chair of the newly formed centrist party, United Utah Party.